Dark matter spanning space detected

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London, Feb 22 (UNI) Enormous chunks of the enigmatic dark matter stretching 270 million light-years across the space have been discovered by astronomers.

These dark matter structures criss-cross the night sky, each spanning an area that is eight times larger than the full moon, or more than 2000 times the size of our own galaxy.

Dark matter is material that cannot be touched or seen but it is suspected of being six times more common in the Universe than regular matter, which makes up stars and air and our body.

This huge network of dark matter, spreading out in mysterious filaments, sheets and clusters, shows up only indirectly. Its gravity is strong enough to distort the light of entire galaxies - hundreds of millions of stars at a time.

''The results are a major leap forward since the presence of a cosmic dark matter web that extends over such large distances has never been observed before,'' Ludovic Van Waerbeke of the University of British Columbia said.

To view the unseen structures, the 19-member-team of French and Canadian scientists ''X-rayed'' the dark matter. The technique is based on 'gravitational lensing', under which light from distant galaxies is deflected by dark matter as it travels through the cosmos to us.

The work, published in the US journal Astronomy and Astrophysics, confirms theories about the massive extent of dark-matter structures and the lensing technique.

The size of the structure we measured corresponds to the limits of our current observational capacity but in reality these structures might even be bigger, experts said.

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